eCommerce is one of the fastest growing industries of today. In 2016, an eMarketer study reported that this sector expected to exceed 4 trillion dollars in sales due to growth at double-digit rates until 2020. What an exciting time to be thinking of launching your own online business or improving your already-operating web store! However, since eCommerce exists in the universe of tech (and we all know how fast technology changes), it is imperative to keep abreast of shifting trends in order to develop a website that is ready for this year’s consumer habits and beyond. Let’s take a look at some of the most influential trends driving eCommerce this year.
But first, some basics to keep in mind…
Let’s not forget that the average human’s attention span is 8 seconds (yes, this is shorter than that of a goldfish). It goes without saying then, that an online business really needs to make an engaging first impression, right from the landing page. On average, users will spend only 10-20 seconds per page; thus, presenting your information in a visual and concise manner is essential in avoiding the risk of prospects “swimming” away to another website before they see and understand your offerings.
Hand-in-hand with the above point is the overall customer/shopping experience of your site as it plays a key part in keeping shoppers engaged. Pay attention to the fluidity of your website; make it easy to navigate, coherent, relevant and most of all, worth a repeat visit. A fluid website is coherent in its content and user experience from beginning to end. If your site has an amazing look and feel throughout the process of selecting a product, there’s nothing worse than being routed to a poor shopping cart experience. Ensuring that your shoppers have a seamless journey right through to checkout and payment helps to encourage recurrent visits. After all, the last impression is as important as the first.
Now that we’ve covered some skeletal essentials for a website, let’s move along to discover some of the key trends that should drive your eCommerce business setup this year.
Mobile shopping is taking the eCommerce sector by storm…and this storm is gaining force in 2018 and is expected to continue well into the future. Business Insider forecasts that mobile commerce will account for 45% of the total US eCommerce market by 2020. This means that having a great look and feel with amazing navigation on your site means nothing at all if it isn’t completely responsive to serve multiple devices. Actually, if you lack responsiveness configurations for your site, you can expect to be reprimanded by search engines like Google – your overall search ranking will be low and your primary sources of web traffic will be compromised.
But, even having a responsive, mobile-friendly site isn’t going to cut it these days. You’ll need to optimize your content and text size for smaller screens, optimize button surface area for clicking, offer one-click checkout options, and offer mobile-friendly payment options.
Varied Payment Options
While we’re on the subject of payment options, there’s much to be taken into account for 2018.
Firstly, since we know mobile commerce is exploding, we can expect that shoppers are going to want to be able to pay with their mobile wallets on your web store. In fact, Allied Market Research published a 2017 report that estimates an incredible rate of growth for global mobile payments: CAGR of 33.34% from 2016-2022, reaching a value of 3.4 billion dollars by the end of the forecast period. Many of the major eCommerce platform providers will connect to major mobile payment gateways like Apple Pay and Google Pay, so make sure you opt-in to activate these connections for your site.
Another payment method you’ll want to consider is accepting cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Many believe that these digital currencies are the future of eCommerce, especially after the boom in Bitcoin prices over recent years. Statista recently reported that, as of December 2017, the number of bitcoins in circulation has been consistently growing and reached around 16.78 million. Clearly, this is an indication that more and more consumers are accepting this currency as the way of payments for the future, and consequently, merchants are starting to get on board with this revolution and now accept virtual currencies in addition to traditional payment methods.
Your business needs to get social this year. Social media can serve your business in a variety of ways from getting in front of millions of potential clients, to having an opportunity to share your industry expertise, and even becoming an extension of your web store. Visual social media “neighborhoods” like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are steadfastly becoming valuable real estate for showcasing your products in online places your consumers spend the most time. These sites/apps have created in-app purchasing options that allow shoppers to see, like, buy and pay for an item without having to switch platforms. Not only is the ease of it all appreciated by customers, it’s an excellent capture more clients and boost sales for your business!
User-Generated Content (UGC)
In our extremely connected social landscape, eCommerce owners already know the importance of user reviews for their business. 61% of shoppers will read online reviews before buying and a third of them will consult at least six comments prior to purchase. In 2018, UGC is more than just reviews though – it is more about getting customers to share your products and their experiences with your products on the web. Not only does this serve as fresh and unbiased content for your brand (PERK: fresh content = better Google search rankings), but it also attracts more potential consumers to your site. These new consumers come with a sense of trust for your brand already built-in and are more likely to purchase from your site after having interacted with UGC.
There are many ways to entice UGC. Consider starting an experiential conversation with hashtags (à la #ShareACoke) or create a contest around a product that you wish to promote.
Leaps in technology have increased the accuracy of voice recognition, resulting in more and more people using their digital voice assistants to search the web. According to ComScore, 50% of all searches will be done via voice assistants by 2020, therefore optimizing your site for natural language search queries is a must. Consider adding a FAQ page that uses phrases and keywords consumers would commonly use during a conversation.
Providing automated and personalized customer support via Chatbots is set to be a big part of building excellent user experiences on websites moving forward. Gartner predicts that “chatbots will power 85% of all customer service interactions by the year 2020.” Chatbots can be programmed to help online shoppers with general questions, purchasing decisions, and even upsell or cross-sell based on their browsing/purchase history. Utilizing a bot on your site can save you time and money, allowing you to focus on business growth strategies for the future while still providing customers with a personalized and intuitive shopping experience. When integrating a chatbot to your website though, just keep in mind that this is a tool to help customers solve a problem. Try not to spend too much time on giving it human characteristics or personality traits, but rather on equipping it with all the algorithms to get the customer the answers they need.
Machine learning is going to revolutionize how eCommerce sites personalize shopping experiences as well. According to Smart Insights, “personalization will soon be about anticipating customers’ support needs before they even have them.” Algorithms are getting smarter and more adaptive, giving machines the ability to predict the most suitable product recommendations for returning customers and even give them supporting content to help drive buying decisions in accordance with their actual needs.
Of course, ULTIMATE personalization is still seen as offering on-demand and bespoke customization of your products, as this Forbes piece highlights as “next-level personalization.” More and more shoppers are interested in having the ability to personalize products to exactly match their liking, whether they’re for themselves or to give as gifts. The businesses that offer this ability to consumers can expect to take giant steps ahead of their competitors in meeting consumer demands.
Well, there you have it – some of the top trends in eCommerce to equip your online business with this year. The main purpose behind all of these trends seems to point in one direction: provide a frictionless shopping experience that results in customer satisfaction and repeat visits/purchases. Mediaclip, too, strives to help you achieve just that with its online product personalization software (refer to the very last point about ultimate personalization!). The technology allows you to integrate with any eCommerce platform of your choice and gives you absolute freedom in the types of innovative products you can offer for personalization to truly carve your niche in the market. Taking it one step further even, with our eCommerce partners we can help you launch a website that is readily integrated with our product personalization tool and can support all the major trends emerging this year. Feel free to contact us for more information!